Cedar Stars Academy captain Christopher Katona during the coin toss before his side's game versus NY Pancyprian Freedoms on Sept. 16th, 2017. Picture by Dinos Avlonitis
The game was delayed for 39 minutes as the power went out on the field shortly before kick off but it didn't take too long for Cedar Stars to find their their rhythm and test the Freedoms' keeper Jordan Stagmiller.
Matthew Nigro's whipped a cracker six minutes into the game from outside the 18. Nigro's shot was deflected but was still making its way in the net, forcing Stagmiller to tip the ball over the cross bar.
Five more CSA shots later-- of which the league's top scorer Christopher Katona put two on target-- and 22 minutes later the home side netted the first goal of the encounter. Walter Calderon smoothly controlled winter signing Antonio Soler's low-cross from about 30 yards out on the right wing before firing a shot in net.
Cedar Stars Academy prodigy Walter Calderon opened the scoring against NY Pancyprian Freedoms. Picture by Christopher Katona
With his boots still hot from scoring the opener Calderon put CSA up by two eight minutes later. This time the young El Salvaldor native steered Max Garcia's short pass to the bottom right corner of the net from the top of the 18.
NY Pancyprian almost cut Oliver Papraniku's men lead in half 18 minutes inside the second period. Daniel Bedoya hit a neat through ball to Adam Himeno who managed to break free from his defender to get on the end of the pass. As CSA keeper Bryan Lopez was pacing off his line, Himeno hit a low shot. Himeno's shot slowly rolled on the wet grass but unfortunately for him his shot whistled just past the right post.
CSA scored a third goal in the 75th minute to ensure their victory as Katona bolted down the left flank via Garcia's pass before pushing the ball past keeper Stagmiller in the box to set himself up for an easy tap in.
Cedar jumped to first place by goal differential over Lansdowne Bhoys after this win with 32 points while the Freedoms remain in third place with 25 points.
Three key notes
1. Cedar's one win away from equalling a CSL modern era record: The Stars are on a nine-game winning streak, just one victory shy of Lansdowne's CSL record of 10 consecutive victories, which they set in 2014. CSA's next game is against the last seeded team Manhattan Kickers next Sunday.
2. Keeper Lopez doesn't let any stains get on his sheets: CSA keeper Bryan Lopez tallied five saves to carry his side to eight straight clean sheets--the longest clean sheet run in the modern era of the league.
Cedar Stars Academy keeper Bryan Lopez in his days with Paraguayan club San Lorenzo.
3. There be won't an undefeated team during the regular season again this year: Going into the encounter NY Pancyprian was the only unbeaten team in the league. Last time a team went undefeated in the regular season was in the 2015-16 season when Lansdowne went 13-0-3.
Players' voice: Walter Calderon (2 goals)
As mentioned in The Key Notes, Cedar Stars was the first team that defeated NY Pancyprian in the league this season. CSA forward Walter Calderon is pleased of the victory over the Cosmopolitan powerhouse.
"NY Pancyprians is a strong team with good players, it feels good to beat teams that are good because that's when you realize you're doing things right," Calderon said after the game.
The 21-year-old also shared that this win gives him more faith that his side will put up a good figure in the postseason.
"I'm happy with the result, with my two goals and the good work of the team," Calderon said. "I'm more motivated and convinced that we have a team that will get very far in the league since we're getting very good results.
The starlet scored four goals in his first four CSL games, one against three-time champions Lansdowne, one versus 2017 Manning State Cup finalists NY Shamrock SC and two on third placed NY Pancyprian.
Before joing the Stars Calderon didn't think he would start his CSL career on such a good note.
"I really didn't expect this," he said. "All the hard work is paying off. I will fight to keep improving so I can continue down the same path."
*Walter Calderon's interview was translated from Spanish to English.